GP Giappone, prove libere venerdì–06/10/2017
Japanese GP practice: Lewis Hamilton fastest but session a washout
Second practice for Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix was a near-washout following heavy rain, with Lewis Hamilton the quickest of just five drivers to set a timed lap.
Rain started falling just before the scheduled start of the afternoon session and soon intensified, leading to race control choosing to delay the start of practice two.
Rivers formed around the undulating Suzuka circuit, with teams entertaining the crowd by creating miniature rafts and boats and sailing them down the pitlane.
The rain finally stopped and with just over 45 minutes of the session to go, running got under way.
Kimi Raikkonen was the first driver to venture out on full wets, soon followed by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer followed suit on the same rubber, with all just completing installation laps.
Some teams were keen to save fresh sets of the full wets for later in the weekend and therefore chose not to go out as conditions did not improve enough for intermediates.
Force India was not one of them, with Sergio Perez the first to complete a timed lap with a 1m51.345s, before being usurped by team-mate Esteban Ocon.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton then pumped in a 1m48.719s to go quickest, 0.799 seconds ahead of Ocon.
The Williams of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were the only others to set a timed lap, with six drivers – Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas – failing to head out at all.
Stroll had a moment at Turn 1, running through the gravel but just missing the barriers before rejoining the track unscathed.
Toro Rosso did an impressive job to repair Carlos Sainz Jr’s car, following his crash in first practice, so he could get out for an installation lap with around 20 minutes to go.
|2||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m49.518s||0.799s||3|
|3||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m51.345s||2.626s||3|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||–||–||1|
Sebastian Vettel leads crash-interrupted first Japanese GP practice
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel set the pace in first Japanese Grand Prix practice, edging out Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton in a session interrupted by Carlos Sainz Jr crashing heavily.
Vettel’s best time of 1m29.166s was set shortly after a red-flag period that was caused when Toro Rosso driver Sainz suffered a violent crash around 50 minutes into the session.
Sainz, who is already set to start from the back of the grid at Suzuka due to engine component change penalties, suddenly lost control as he ran wide exiting the hairpin, and speared towards the tyre barriers, blocking the track.
When the session resumed with 23 minutes left on the clock, Ferrari sent both its drivers out on super-soft tyres, with Vettel – who had been 0.042 seconds behind super-soft-shod Hamilton in second when still on softs – eclipsing the Mercedes’ previous benchmark by 0.211s to move to the top of the times.
The arrival of heavier rain in the final 10 minutes ensured Vettel’s time would go unchallenged in the closing stages.
Hamilton, using the new Mercedes aero parts he eschewed last weekend in Malaysia, set the pace for much of the session, trading fastest times with team-mate Valtteri Bottas during the opening 20 minutes on soft tyres.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo became the first driver to dip beneath the 1m30s barrier just shy of half an hour into the session, using super-softs to set a 1m29.541s and eclipse Hamilton by 0.501s.
That benchmark stood for a little under 10 minutes, as Hamilton – now on super-softs – improved to a 1m29.377s to retake top spot.
That time held up for second after Vettel’s late improvement.
Ricciardo ended the session third-fastest, 0.375s shy of Vettel and a tenth up on the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who was 0.472s slower than his team-mate on super-softs.
Bottas was fifth, 0.985s off the pace, six tenths ahead of Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull.
Both drivers suffered lurid off-track moments during the session, Bottas approaching Turn 1 and then at Degner; Verstappen at Spoon.
Esteban Ocon was the best of the Force Indias in seventh, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren.
Fernando Alonso was 12th-fastest, 0.033s down on Vandoorne, the two McLarens split by Kevin Magnussen – recovering from a water pressure problem that kept him in the garage for much of the first part of the session.
Sainz ended up 17th after his crash, one place ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly, whose Toro Rosso was sent out equipped with a halo at the start of the session.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.541s||0.375s||27|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m30.762s||1.596s||26|
|7||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.899s||1.733s||22|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m31.530s||2.364s||23|
|17||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m32.252s||3.086s||14|
|18||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m32.501s||3.335s||18|